We are two days away from the Olympics, so let’s get to know one of the Australian athletes participating (and one of two Australian flag-bearers), Patty Mills.
Born and raised in Canberra, Mills started playing basketball at the young age of 4. During his childhood, he progressed to becoming a promising basketball talent. Outside of basketball, Mills also played AFL at a high level, however, he decided to eventually pursue a career in basketball instead. After high school, Mills signed to play college basketball for Saint Mary’s College of California in the United States.
Mills is a First Nations person. His father is a Torres Strait Islander (Muralag) man, and his mother is an Aboriginal (Nyunga) woman.
Mills’ career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) started in 2009 when he was drafted to the Portland Trail Blazers. Over his career, Mills has built a reputation for three-point shooting and for being an inspiring off-court leader.
Mills has also played for the Portland Trail Blazers, Melbourne Tigers, Xinjiang Flying Tigers, and the San Antonio Spurs (where he’s been since 2012).
Mills is also part of the National Australian basketball team (the Boomers). After a strong win against the U.S. in a practice match last week, Mills’ Boomers are firm medal favourites. He is the third First Nations person to play for the team in its history and is also the youngest player to represent Australia in men’s basketball.
Mills is known for using his platform to promote and bring awareness to First Nations culture. In July last year, Mills launched the “We Got You” initiative, an athlete-led campaign aiming to eradicate racism, exclusion, and discrimination in Australian sport. The initiative provided a platform and support network for athletes who have experienced racism in sport. Additionally last year, Mills donated about $1 million to Black Lives Matter Australia, Black Deaths in Custody and his We Got You initiative.
The first First Nations flag bearer
On Friday, Mills will be the first First Nations person to be a flag bearer at an Olympic Games where he will co-carry the Australian flag with swimmer Cate Campbell.
This year’s Games will be Mills’ fourth time competing in the Olympics.